Your Monday Briefing

India may be underreporting coronavirus numbers.

By Amelia Nierenberg

Covid deaths devastate India

Each day, India reports more than 300,000 new infections, a world record that accounts for nearly half of all new cases in a global surge, and more than 2,000 deaths. But experts say those numbers represent just a fraction of the true human toll from the virus in the country.

A sluggish vaccination campaign and an insidious new variant discovered in India may be behind the spread, which has kept cremation grounds burning nonstop and drained hospitals of oxygen resources.

“Have you seen a fish out of water?” one man said on Saturday outside a hospital in New Delhi after 20 Covid patients died after an oxygen shortage. “It’s unimaginable. Just like a fish out of water.”

Background: Many officials and ordinary citizens stopped taking precautions after India initially avoided the frightening death tolls that sent other big countries into crisis mode, perhaps because its population is young. “People here thought it was over,” Jeffrey Gettleman, The Times’s South Asia bureau chief, told our colleagues at the Coronavirus Briefing.

Suppression: The government on Sunday said it ordered Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to take down dozens of social media posts critical of the country’s handling of the pandemic.

Shockwaves: Less than 10 percent of Indians have received one dose of a vaccine, even though country is the world’s leading vaccine manufacturer. Now, the country has opted to restrict exports of vaccine doses, which could stall or even stop Africa’s already slow vaccination campaign.

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